Thursday, December 27, 2012

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

 Today was such a glorious day.  Yesterday the world was carpeted so thickly with snow as I have never seen before and I know not exactly how many inches.  Eight? Twelve?  It was a beautiful sight.  We sat together at the windows beside the glowing Christmas tree, still decked in splendor, drinking our tea and eating a scone, and speaking in low voices, and every so often exclaiming at the sudden beauty of the storm.

Then  this morning what a world of wonder we awoke to! Cars half buried, drifts as high as our white picket fence which was still yet not as white as the snow, trees dancing with arms burrowed in deep, jeweled and glittering white sleeves.  In the afternoon we all bundled up to our noses and went wading through the snow, determined to do some sledding in the nearby park.  It was quite a bit of work toiling through the thick snow and over the piles in places that people had removed from streets and driveways, but the park was a place apart.  Only a few lovers of winter sports and the outdoors in general haunted the usually busy trails and slopes.  For the rest, it was still with the stillness that only comes with snow... the odd, isolated and muffling quality which snow gives to sounds, mingled with the fact that most beasts and men with any sense are holed up snugly somewhere and not out in the elements.

We did our sledding and passed the time of day with the few neighbors we passed, who, like ourselves, were sporting in the snow, with sleds or skis or snowshoes.  Twilight fell and the whole place grew more still, and the horizons were dimmer, and the light took on more and more of a blue tone.  Home we reluctantly turned, wet and cold, and from the depths of warm afghans immersed ourselves in a most beloved tale of which sometime I may write... but I was pierced again by the intense Beauty of it all, in the story and outdoors, and all set me longing again for the eucatastrophic, bound up in the person of the Author of existence, Who alone satisfies the deepest desires of man. And like all true kings, the sooner he comes, the better.

"Further up and further in!"

Monday, December 24, 2012

Joy at Christmas

"He gives his harness bells a shake
 to ask if there is some mistake... 
The only other sound's the sweep
of snowy wood and downy flake."

"I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet, the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

"The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully."

"The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight."

"It ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen-
Then stills its Artisans-like Ghosts-
Denying they have been-"

"Merry Christmas!!"

Tonight, we celebrated in my Mate's tradition of Wigilia, the Polish Christmas Eve.  Food abounded in twelve dishes, and so did guests and even song, as we made rounds to the neighbors afterward caroling.  Then there was more food, and rounds of coffee and tea... my best Polish phrase being, "Kava cze herbata?" "Coffee or tea?"  

It is always mayhem.  We never begin the day before.  I said, "Let's make pierogis today so we won't have to tomorrow."  My mother-in-law replied in broken English: No. She had always cooked the entire meal herself; and her mother before her.  (I had my own thoughts on that subject; I certainly am not going to volunteer to make a twelve dish extravaganza by myself! What a dreadful tradition!) Of course with three people helping it could be done in one day.  Now, that isn't what I was asking exactly.  Not whether it could be done, but whether we could make it easier.  But making it easier is not the Polish way, at any rate not in my in-laws' views of things.  But as she was helping me, dubious though I was, I surrendered.  Consequently of course we did finish everything, only just in the nick of time, and we were all tired and a little short-tempered when the guests arrived.  Ahh, well.  Christmas is a season of longsuffering, even with mother-in-laws.

But the feast was wondrous to behold.  Poppy-seed noodles, two soups, three kinds of pierogis... and those delicious pastries she makes without a recipe.  Mmmm... and my husband's specialty, a lovely blueberry cheesecake.  (
It was exhausting despite the fun... I begin to feel a little oldish as the hours run on, and even on holidays I want my bed.  But after every guest departed, the loveliest new snow began to whisper down from the dark sky, lifting my heart with its silent melody.  So beautiful. A Christmas present from the cause of Christmas, and the author of all that is beautiful, holy or good.  I saw the crystalline flakes falling and the quiet deeps of Christ pooled in my soul. Merry, merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Of Men (but not Mice)...

Ah, the aggravating distraction that is a Man.  One can get on very well without him.  Life is so much simpler and more orderly when he is not around.  He is quarrelsome or temperamental or romantic by turns; he is never interested in what one wants to interest him in, but always interested in proving to himself that he can deflect one's attention to something else.  If one is washing the dishes, he can't leave well enough alone.  No, he must needs insist upon a discussion of politics or else his work or else become amorous, just to satisfy his vanity and reassure himself she still falls for him.  If one feels romantic in one's own turn, however, he is sure to be busy paying bills or reading articles.
File:Aiga toiletsq men.svg

Yet all the time one knows that one's life would be terribly narrow without him: cool and pristine and glassy, obscured and small and safe in one's grasp, a single endless project of femininity.  The most aggravating point for me, however, in the matters politic between men and women, is the tenacity with which a man will insist that women are complicated and that men are simplicity itself.  Men are much the most fascinating objects of complexity I know: funny, absurd, tender, rough, romantic, prosaic, obnoxious, courteous, mischievous, wheedlesome, so many contradictions in one interesting and exasperating and irresistible package.  If they were cat toys then they would be the ball of yarn that never fully unravels.  If they were dog toys they would be big, meaty bones with pith and marrow.

My Man pestered me determinedly as I gazed equally determinedly at the screen, trying to compose the first thoughts of a new post.  I felt poetry in my blood, but it couldn't come for distraction.  I asked, "Do you not want me to write?" He replied, thinking himself very clever, and what is not precisely the same thing, "I like that you're a writer." Hmph.  So I began this post...

He was looking over my shoulder at the end, and couldn't help chuckling as he read- but at last he complained: "It isn't fair.  Men are simple and uncomplicated..." Me, in a drippingly sweet voice: "I know, I know.  Of course they are."  At which he was finally equally exasperated.  "But you have made it so that my saying so seems to prove your point!!!"  Haha.  Indeed, check mate, my mate!